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Port: Kid Rock, the North Dakota State Fair, and our overweening sense of entitlement

When did we convince ourselves that being inconvenienced — and that's all a rock concert cancellation is, an inconvenience — justified the verbal and physical abuse of other human beings?

Kid Rock rocks WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn., in 2010.
Kid Rock rocks WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn., in 2010.
File photo
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MINOT, N.D. — My hometown recently made national headlines in a way that you don't want your hometown to make national headlines.

Detroit rap rocker Kid Rock was scheduled to play the North Dakota State Fair here in Minot on Friday night, July 22. Only, he didn't take the stage. The opening act, Night Ranger, played for the crowd. Then there was a roughly two-hour delay. Then it was announced that Rock wouldn't be playing at all.

The blame went to the weather, and things were, at least potentially, pretty ugly that night. There was even a tornado warning. My family was at the fairgrounds and came home early where we watched, on our weather app radars, a nasty storm skirt just north, and then east, of town.

But the headlines didn't stem from a concert canceled due to weather concerns.

They were inspired by the crowd's reaction to the cancellation.

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Boos are to be expected with this sort of thing, but not belligerent inebriates, drunk and sweaty adult-sized babies, pelting volunteers and security personnel and roadies with beer cups and other state fair concert detritus.

One mouth-breathing knucklehead even stormed the stage, where he was promptly tackled.

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I hope his bruises are still smarting.

You can argue that the national news media's reaction to this ugly turn of events in Minot was exaggerated. Many publications used words like "riot" to describe it, even suggesting that the venue was "trashed." That's inaccurate sensationalism.

You can also argue that state fair officials handled the situation poorly. They left a rock concert crowd with nothing to do but drink copious amounts of alcohol for hours on end in the summer heat before canceling the show. Forecasting the weather can be tricky, but guessing how that boozy crowd was going to react was not.

But none of this should remove culpability from the crowd itself. The videos of the event were hard to watch because this wasn't something that happened on the other side of the country. This was my hometown. I saw familiar faces in the video. Acquaintances. Business professionals. Teachers and civic leaders.

I was left wondering, when did we all become so entitled? And so quick to play the victim?

When did we convince ourselves that being inconvenienced — and that's all a rock concert cancellation is, an inconvenience — justified the verbal and physical abuse of other human beings?

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There is some measure of cold comfort to be found in the fact that this sort of thing isn't unique to Minot. It's happening across our nation. It just hurts me more to see it in my community.

The villains in this scenario are not the concert promoters or the state fair officials (though they could have handled it better) but the people themselves.

It's unpopular to say that in this age of virulent populism, but it's the truth. We bemoan what's happening in our society, and we blame external factors like social media and politics and entertainment, but the truth is it's us.

We're the problem.

We have to start being the solution.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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